That may have been the greatest 2:05 of a football game that I have ever seen.
And that’s saying something, folks, because I’ve seen a lot of football.
The game: Minnesota at Baltimore.
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The situation: Minnesota led 12-7 with just over two minutes to play when Baltimore’s Dennis Pitta caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to begin the madness. Baltimore leads 15-12 after a two-point conversion.
What followed was nothing short of amazing.
— 1:27 left: Minnesota’s Toby Gerhart took a handoff and ran straight up the middle for a 41-yard touchdown. Minnesota leads 19-15.
— 1:16 left: The Vikings kicked off and Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones returned it 77 yards for a touchdown. Baltimore leads 22-19.
— 0:45 left: Minnesota’s Cordarrelle Patterson took a short pass from Matt Cassel and turned it into a 79-yard touchdown. Minnesota leads 26-22.
And somehow, this crazy game got even better with this incredible ending.
Here was the situation: Baltimore had the ball, first-and-goal at the Minnesota 9-yard line with 10 seconds left. Flacco hit Marlon Brown in the back of the end zone for the game-winner with 4 seconds left in the game.
Final: Baltimore 29, Minnesota 26.
Talk about the skill level and tough conditions. It was a perfectly thrown pass by Flacco and Brown got possession with one foot down, dragged the other foot and then both heels were on the ground while maintaining control while hitting the hard turf.
There aren’t enough words to accurately describe this one, but here’s one: awesome.
NO WAY THAT’S PASS INTERFERENCE
The only answers you need to know about the questionable penalty that was called in the Cleveland-New England game with less than a minute to play with the Browns leading 26-21 are this:
No … and … no.
Here was the situation: New England had the ball, first-and-10 at the Cleveland 30-yard line with 41 seconds left. New England quarterback Tom Brady took the snap out of the shotgun and attempted a long pass to the goal line to Josh Boyce that was incomplete. Pass interference was called on Leon McFadden on the play and the ball was placed on the Browns’ 1. The Patriots scored the winning touchdown on the next play.
Do I think that was DPI? No, I do not.
Do I like the pass interference rule in the NFL? Absolutely not.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it 100 times more: Pass interference is the hardest call to make, and it carries the most punitive yardage penalty. The college rule takes this play and makes it a 15-yard penalty, which at least gives some solace to the fact that when you make an incorrect call, it doesn’t cost you, in this case, a 29-yard penalty — with the game on the line.
McFadden and Boyce were hand-fighting down the field. There was not enough contact for defensive pass interference to be called.
I’ll go to my grave saying I don’t like the rule, but the NFL won’t listen. This is too a severe a penalty for something that is so subjective, and in this case, not even enough to have a foul.
BENGALS RECEIVE A GIFT TOUCHDOWN
The folks in Indianapolis are not going to be happy with a very questionable fourth-down call made in the Colts-Bengals game in Cincinnati, and, unfortunately, they have every right to be.
Here was the situation: Cincinnati had the ball, fourth-and-goal from the Indianapolis 1-yard with 1:14 left in the second quarter. Cincinnati led 7-0. Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis took a handoff and appeared to be tripped up by Indy tackle Josh Chapman short of of the goal line.
After a review, the call was reversed to a touchdown, which gave the Bengals a 14-0 halftime lead.
There’s no way you can overturn this.
The ruling on the field was made that Green-Ellis was down by contact. Even though there was clearly some indecision when the line judge called referee Jeff Triplette over to ask him whether he thought contact had been made or not on Green-Ellis.
But, the fact is, the ruling was that there was contact made and there was nothing to show there clearly wasn’t.
You could even make a much stronger case that contact was made. There was nothing indisputable to show there wasn’t, which means they should have stayed with the ruling of being short and the ball should have been given to the Colts on the 1-yard line.
It was a replay mistake that overturns a decision that was properly made on the field. And that should never happen.
Triplette said in his pool report after the game that they only reviewed the action at the goal line. I don’t understand that. You have to review all aspects of the play to see if Green-Ellis was not tripped up. If he didn’t see the shots, then that is the replay official’s fault for not showing him.
But even if he didn’t, Triplette should have asked for them because you can clearly see that Green-Ellis was stumbling.
This just added yet another layer to the confusion to this play.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH ALL THAT SNOW?
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Wish you could hear me singing, but trust me, it’s very good. Actually feels kind of appropriate for a change here in the "ice cube" my crew and I call home at the FOX Network Center, since in many of the early NFL games here in Week 14, the snow is coming down.
Remember in the "snow plow" game between New England-Miami back in 1982, when the tractor with brushes took a little veer off the 5-yard mark and cleaned the area where New England attempted a field goal?
Not going to happen Sunday.
Snow removal guidelines are in the game operation manual of the NFL, and here is basically what they say:
— You can clear the sidelines, goal lines and end lines.
— You can clear the 10-yard stripes behind the offense, not in front of the offense.
— And during play, during a timeout, the only thing you can clear in front of the offense is the goal line if the referee deems that the goal line is not visible.
If the offense is inside the 20, you cannot clean the 5-yard stripe directly behind the offense because it might end up benefiting a field goal attempt in an area that’s clean, so therefore, that’s not allowable.
The kicker and holder can’t use anything like a brush to clear the spot of where they are going to attempt a field goal, but they can scrape off the snow with their hands or feet. Just no artificial tool.
In the end, common sense plays a factor, and there are specific guidelines in the NFL manual to make sure that what happened in New England in 1982 doesn’t happen again.